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Cosmic Walk: the Story of the Universe, based on science, Kabbalah and the Seven Days of Creation

Cosmic Walk: the Story of the Universe, based on science, Kabbalah and the Seven Days of Creation

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Published by David Seidenberg
The Cosmic Walk is a ritual storytelling of the history of the universe from the beginning until now, using physics, evolution, biology, etc., but told from a deeply spiritual perspective. This version of "the universe story" is unique because it uses Kabbalah to structure the telling, and it includes the history of all religions, plate tectonics, and other scientific and historical data points not included in any other version.
The Cosmic Walk is a ritual storytelling of the history of the universe from the beginning until now, using physics, evolution, biology, etc., but told from a deeply spiritual perspective. This version of "the universe story" is unique because it uses Kabbalah to structure the telling, and it includes the history of all religions, plate tectonics, and other scientific and historical data points not included in any other version.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: David Seidenberg on May 15, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/10/2014

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The Cosmic Walk: The Spiraling Story of Our Universe
created by Rabbi David Seidenberg, based on the work of many many others
For the Leader or 
 
 
Narrator:
This is a telling of the story of the Universe according to current science, as a sacred story that fits intoour religious traditions. It was created by Sister Miriam MacGillis from Genesis Farm, and further developed by others in the eco-spirituality movement. This version was written by Rabbi David Seidenberg (who first learned it from John Seed), and it includes many new details about religion and science, including information about paleogeography and continental drift. As a Jewish telling of the story,this version also includes specific references to the evolution of Judaism, and it structures the telling according to the “seven days of creation” which, according to Kabbalah, are actually the seven lower Sefirot, the qualities through which God created the world. The spiral rope used for the walk represents13.7 billion years of this unfolding story. One eighth of an inch equals about one and a half million years;ten feet equals about one and a half billion years. (Part of this paragraph is repeated on page 2 for theactual storytelling.)There are 30 stations, some of which include multiple events, divided into seven “days”. Alongside eachstation you will find measurements for how far one travels on a 100’ rope, corresponding to the 13.7 billions years since the Universe began. When you set up the rope, measure each distance from the previous candle junction and mark it with tape or marker 
 
. (For 100' 
 
rope: 10' ~
 
1.5 billion; 6.5' ~
 
1 billionyrs; 1' ~ 150 million years; 1" ~ 12.5 million years; 1/8" ~ 1.5 million years. Bya = billion years ago; mya =million years ago.) A rope
½
” thick works best because it will lay out smoothly. If it's windy or you're in aspace where fire can't be lit, battery “candles” work just as well. At each station place a tea light candle.The telling of the story goes like this:1) The narrator reads (or improvises) a description of each station (including any events labeled a, b, c).2) The candle lighter waits until the narrator is finished, then lights the candle at that station.3) The candle lighter then walks slowly to the next station and stops.This process repeats until the end. All of the last stations, represented by letters instead of numbers,correspond to the final candle at the end of the rope. You can do a simpler, shorter ritual by just reading what is in bold, or a longer, more technical one by reading what is in parentheses. Much of the parenthetical information is given in order to deepen the leader’s understanding of these events; there ismore scientific information here than is needed for the average audience. Use your discretion in deciding what to improvise, what to include, and what to leave out. If you’re not sure what to do, or if you don’t have time to decide exactly what parts you will read, then
 just read what is in bold 
(or use Version II).Feel free to edit the long version to include just the parts you want to emphasize. If you make significant changes, please state that the ritual is “based on” the script created by neohasid.org.
Notes: 1) The dates for various stations are approximate, and are given according to the most widely-accepted opinions, as best as the author could determine. The order of events is fairly well-defined, but dates and even theorder of some stations are debated, can vary, and may not reflect the most recent theories. The Cosmic Walk story will in any case change as science develops.2) The events related in the story focus on the emergence of mammals and humans. A Cosmic Walk told from afish’s perspective would be quite different in emphasis.3) The paleogeologic names given to different time spans, as well as the paleogeographic names for continents, aregiven to make it easy to do further research. Use them in the telling only if it enhances the experience of participants.4) An eon is the largest division of Earth-time (also sometimes called an era). An eon is made up of eras(confusingly) or ages; an era or age is made up of epochs or periods—below the terminology used is eon/era/period.This terminology can vary from one book or site to another. If you include the names for these divisions of time, usewhichever terminology sounds best to you.5) Three verbs are used to describe the formation of new species: appear, emerge, and radiate. ‘Appear’ refers to theearliest known instances of a kind or species in the fossil record; ‘emerge’ refers to the time when a class or speciesbecomes established; ‘radiate’ refers to the time when a class or clade of species evolves to fill many different ecological niches.6) Many versions of the Cosmic Walk, including the ones that formed the basis for this version (esp. Edwards,Rosenhek and Bernuy versions), can be found at: 
http://www.threeeyesofuniverse.org/public/cosmicwalks/TheCosmicWalk.html
The Cosmic Walk: The Spiraling Story of Our Universe 1.0 ©2010 Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org, rebduvid86@gmail.com based on the work of Miriam MacGillis, John Seed, and many others. Latest version can be found at
neohasid.org/ecohasid/cosmicwalk 
1
 
Version I.
The Cosmic Walk is a telling of the story of the Universe according to current science, as a sacred story that fits into our spiritual and religious traditions.
 
It was created by Sister Miriam MacGillis
(from Genesis Farm, and further developed by the eco-spirituality movement).
This version is
written by Rabbi David Seidenberg
from neohasid.org.
It includes many new details about religionand science, including paleogeography and continental drift. As a Jewish telling, this version also includes references to the evolution of Judaism, and
it structures the telling according to the “seven days of creation” which, according to Kabbalah, are actually theseven lower 
Sefirot, the
qualities through which God created the world.
 
The spiral rope you see represents 13.7 billion years
of thisunfolding story. One eighth of an inch equals about one and a half million years;
ten feet equals about one and a half billion years.
The symbol of the spiral is fundamental to the experience of the Cosmic Walk.
When the story of the Universe is told in sciencemuseums and textbooks, time is often represented by a straight, very long line, with the whole of human history being only thetiniest sliver at the very end, visually
(and spiritually)
separated from the rest of history by whatever happened just before us.
Theimplied message is that we are an insignificant coda to a vast but unconscious story.
In contrast,
 
as we walk the spiral, the beginning isvisible from every point; we stand in relation to the whole story at all times.
 
Similarly, we are taught that our solar system is one of billions and trillions of specks in comparison with the whole of the Universe. But if there is only a one in one billion trillion chanceof life beginning on a planet like ours, then a billion trillion such planets might be created in order for life to evolve! The vastmagnitude of the Universe may be the precondition for life to exist. All of these miracles, exactly as they happened, were needed inorder for us to be here. You are invited to be a witness
to this story,
and to experience gratitude, awe, or any other emotions thatarise. At the end of the telling, you can
sit silently, or 
walk the spiral. After a few minutes of meditation
following the story, chanting,dancing, drumming and
all kinds of celebration are welcome!
 
In the beginning…
We begin with what we call ‘The Big Bang’. In Kabbalah, we begin with
 
zimtzum
, contraction, followed by Love.
Chesed 
 
 —Love: expansion through love, free energy created out of nothing, the revelation of light.
1.
The Great Emergence, 13.7 billion Earth years ago.
Yesh Me'ayin
, something from nothing,
creatio ex nihilo
—no words we havecan describe what happened. A constriction to a point, or contraction away from a point—in Kabbalah,
tzimtzum
, creating a womb-space for the first light, the
Or Haganuz,
the hidden light, or 
Or Ein Sof 
 
,
the endless light.
Tzimtzum
draws forth the primordial lightfrom nothingness into emptiness,
drawing the Universe
 
into
what we identify as
extraordinary inflation and expansion
(from 10
-32
to 10
-12
seconds). (The expansion is
propelled by
 
dark
or “vacuum”
energy
 
, truly hidden “light”.)
Quarks
, (gluons, photons, and electrons)precipitate or 
emerge from the ether 
(or the “quantum foam”)
pulsing, exploding, with energy
 
. As fundamental symmetries are brokenand energy and matter decouple, entities and forces are separated from each other by infinitesimal divergences.
3 minutes after the BigBang quarks have formed into protons and neutrons
(a process called ‘baryogenesis’).
13 minutes after the Big Bang, the Universe isfilled with 75% hydrogen nuclei
 
and 25% helium
 
nuclei
by mass—(nuclei with 1 or 2 protons plus neutrons). (Traces of lithium andberyllium also appeared.)
A beginning filled with all promise of whatever was and whatever will be.
Beginning of rope
 
2.
380,000 years later, the Cosmic Web emerges.
(Some people think this happened at 700,000 years.) As quarks lead to protons soprotons lead to atoms.
A burst of radiation is released as the seething plasma—protons, neutrons and electrons—cools enough tocombine to form atoms
, mostly hydrogen and some helium.
This burst of light, traveling through billions of light years, is the cosmicmicrowave background radiation
(CMB)
that we can still see today. Minute differences in the distribution of matter 
(“anisotropies”)
allow gravity to start pulling the primal elements and particles together, leading hundreds of millions of years later to the first stars.Afterwards, the Universe, though filled with light, becomes opaque
, because the newly formed hydrogen (through absorption andreemission) changes most light passing through it.
 
1/32”
candle goes next to the first one
 
3.
200-400 million years later 
(= 13.5 bya),
primal stars emerge
, different from han any that exist now
 
. Created in a world almost devoidof what astronomers call "metals"—
 
elements heavier than helium—these stars may have been hundreds of times larger than thesun. Over millions of years, these stars and their descendants reionize the interstellar hydrogen, making it transparent again.
Insidethese primal stars (called Population III stars), new elements are created (“stellar nucleosynthesis”) which will allow the variety of stars wesee today to emerge (blue giants, red giants, yellow stars, white dwarfs, etc.) 1.5’
 
4.
300 million years later, galaxies emerge, made up of vast systems of stars
(called Population II stars). We can see what some peoplebelieve are these first galaxies. These newer stars begin creating the carbon (through the triple-alpha process that fuses three helium nuclei),along with the oxygen and nitrogen (through the CNO cycle), that ultimately become the foundation for organic life. It will take billions of years for enough of the heavier elements to exist for the Universe to create stars with more “metals”—like our sun (Population I stars). 2’5. Some
two and a half 
 
billion years later,
(10-11 bya)
some people believe that dust in interstellar space, made up of elements
likecarbon, oxygen and nitrogen that were
created inside older stars,
 
could have produced the first “organic” molecules.
17’
And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
Gevurah
 —Might: creation through limiting, shattering, destruction. Our planet is born.
6.
4.6 billion years ago (5.9 billion years later), the birth of our solar system. Millions or billions of years before, our grandparentstars died as supernovas, sending forth new matter which now forms planets and asteroids; a surrounding cloud of hydrogencollapses to ignite as our Sun. Every atom on earth and in your body is older than the Sun;
 
every one besides hydrogen wascreated inside a star.
(Every atom heavier than iron was created by a supernova.)
 
This is the solar system, the beginning of our uniquehistory, our corner of the Universe, evolving along its own path, different from every other place.
Earth is born.
(We know there are other stars with planets too, other "solar systems", each with its own unique history. We do not know if any other planets support life.) 41’7.
4.3 bya, the Hadeon Eon. The gravity of the outer planets sweeps debris left over from the creation of the solar system into acollision path with Earth
and the other inner planets
. One of the greatest collisions creates the moon
when a planetoid is vaporized byits impact with the Earth and thrown into space, along with a tremendous mass from the Earth (while its core becomes part of Earth’s core).(Some people think it may have taken the moon only a few hundred thousand years to form after this event.)
The Earth-Moon dance, andthe tilt of 
 
the Earth, which gives us tides and seasons, are created. The tides will encourage life to move onto land millions of yearslater, and the seasons will allow life, once it is on land, to exist all the way from the equator to the poles
(though the currentconfiguration of continents that stretches nearly pole to pole is only about 90 million years old).
At the end of this time,
 
comets of ice alsostrike the Earth, bringing all the water that will create our planet's oceans.
(W
 
ater may have existed on Earth before this, but if it did itwould have been driven off at the beginning of the bombardment.) 2'
And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
The Cosmic Walk: The Spiraling Story of Our Universe 1.0 ©2010 Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org, rebduvid86@gmail.com based on the work of Miriam MacGillis, John Seed, and many others. Latest version can be found at
neohasid.org/ecohasid/cosmicwalk 
2
 
Tiferet 
 —Balance and Beauty: the intertwining of expansion and restriction, which leads to dynamic growth, death andbirth. Earth comes to LIFE!
And ultimately, to consciousness. (No one knows for sure if other corners of the Universe haveundergone similar transformations, but many people believe that the conditions for life to evolve must exist elsewhere too.)
8.
3.9 bya, the
 
Archaeon Eon, life emerges, in mystery, through perhaps unfathomable processes. The first cells, ancestors of archaea or bacteria
(both prokaryotes without organelles),
replicate in the oceans
and live by chemosynthesis without sunlight. (We don'tknow whether the first life was based on DNA, RNA, or some other configuration. Most life which we see now—except some viruses—isbased on DNA.) (Some people believe that archaea were the first organisms.) 2' 8”9.
3.5 bya, Bacteria split off from Archaea.
(The main differences between bacteria and archaea are hard to visualize. Many species of archaea live in extreme, e.g. very hot or very acidic, environments, and so are thought of as “extremophiles”; most are anaerobic; nonephotosynthesize. Archaea are in many ways chemically more similar to eukaryotes—animals, plants and fungi—than to bacteria.) 2’ 8”10.
3 bya, cyanobacteria
(or “blue-green algae”)
invent photosynthesis. Earth learns to feed on sunlight! Millions of years of photosynthesis
will
create a new atmosphere filled with oxygen – poisonous to most of the life that existed
 
then
, but essential for themetabolism of the plants and animals that will eventually colonize the land. (Some say that this happened in as little as 300,000 years, andthat photosynthesis was invented 2.8 bya. Some say photosynthesis was invented 3.5 bya and that it took 1 billion years for the oxygenatmosphere to form.) (Red banded-iron formations created during this time show that Earth maintained her equilibrium for millions of yearsby absorbing the freed oxygen.) There was most likely a mass extinction of anaerobic life forms (cells that live in the absence of oxygen).(The advent of an oxygen atmosphere may have also led to a “snowball earth” because of the destruction of many greenhouse gases andthe end of photosynthesis near the ocean surface.)
The liberated oxygen forms an ozone shield high in the evolving atmosphere—anecessity for life on land because it protects us from cosmic radiation.
Some believe that atmospheric oxygen also prevented theoceans' waters from evaporating back into space. Our realization of how bacteria created the atmosphere we depend on led to the Gaiahypothesis—the idea that Earth as a whole is alive, actively creating the conditions for new life to thrive and evolve. 3’ 4”11.
2.5 bya,
the
 
Proterozoic Eon
.
 
Earth learns to breath!
 
Oxygen-loving bacteria proliferate.
3’ 4”12.
By 2 bya, cells that have a nucleus emerge
(Eukaryotes). A miraculous and world-changing symbiosis takes place: the (bacterial)precursors of mitochondria and chloroplasts (and perhaps other organelles) take up residence inside other cells (possibly archaeons).
Plant-like protists
(which have both mitochondria and chloroplasts)
split off from
 
animal-like protists
(which have only mitochondria).
Allmulticellular organisms—nearly all living things that we can see with our eyes—are descended from these first Eukaryotes.
(Though we can’t see them, the vast majority of organisms and species that exist on Earth are the others, the Archaea and Bacteria.) 3’ 4”12a. 1.5 bya,
a half billion years later, Fungi split off from Animals—not from Plants!
(We are more closely related to fungi than plantsare.) (Though we can guess around when this split happened, we only know about it from estimates based on “molecular clocks”. The firstdefinite fossils of fungi only appear about a billion years later in the Devonian).13.
1.2 bya, red algae leave the first fossil record of sexual reproduction.
The sexual recombining of DNA creates untold, innumerableopportunities for new species and for evolution.
Sex is invented before death.
(Individual cells before this can die through accident or habitat loss, but they are not programmed to die, and theoretically can continue to reproduce forever, with no built-in limitation.) (Though onlyeukaryotes reproduce sexually, bacteria also exchange DNA, in a process called conjugation.) 5' 4”13a. 1.1 bya-750 mya, Rodinia forms as most of the land comes together in one continent, and a quarter billion years later breaks up.14.
800 mya, death is invented. Cells become programmed to die
(“apoptosis”)
after a certain number of generations or replications.
(In our cells, the telomeres that cap each cell’s chromosomes grow shorter with each replication. When the telomeres disappear the cellstops dividing.)
Death
is an engine that
accelerates change, driving the evolution of all the more complex life forms.
2' 8”14a. 750 mya, a “snowball Earth” (one of two major glaciations that mark the Cryogenian period). The two halves of Rodinia migrate to theNorth and South Poles, ending ocean circulation and leading to the total glaciation of the planet – setting the stage for the next great leap of life.15. 635-543 mya, the Vendian/Ediacaran period. Around
600 mya, complex ecosystems of multicellular organisms emerge.
Multicellularity evolves many times independently in plants, fungi and animals;
 
some of 
these organisms begin to eat one another.
Manyof the earliest organisms are large soft-bodied creatures without limbs or mouths. Nobody knows for sure whether they were multicellular or like a giant single-cell, whether they fed off sunlight or detritus or chemosynthesis. All of them disappeared (before the Cambrian period).15b. 550 mya,
the first shells appear 
(small shelly animals like
Cloudina
, then primitive molluscs)
—animals learn new ways to protectthemselves.
 
Equilibrium comes through the finest calibrations of life with death
, in ecosystems composed of hundreds of species andinnumerable organisms
. The predator-prey dance that gives us the strength of the lion and the speed of the gazelle begins.
 
1' 4”15c. 600-543 mya, the parts of Rodinia come back together over the South Pole for 60 million years in the supercontinent we call Pannotia,(initiating an “ice-house” Earth.)
And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
 Netzach
 —Eternity: in Kabbalah, the eye of 
 
 
prophecy
 —reflection, sight, and insight.
Earth becomes aware.
16.
542-488 mya, the Cambrian explosion
—ever more phenomenal innovations of life appear on Earth. Near the beginning,
sight isinvented. Trilobites are one of the first groups of animals with light-sensing organs—primitive eyes. Earth begins to see herself for the first time.
Life in the form of fossils becomes a significant part of the geological record. (This begin the Phanerozoic Eon.) 5"
 
16a.
520 mya, the first backbones
 
support the first central nervous systems in fish.
The brain at the apex will ultimately evolve into our brains.
 
16b. 490-440 mya, the Ordovician period – Pannotia splits in four. Gondwana (also called Gondwanaland), a configuration that includes half the land mass of Earth, forms, lasting for hundreds of millions of years. Jawless fish, nautiloids and molluscs (bivalves) all radiate during theOrdovician. The first cephalopods and the first jawed fish appear by the end.17.
460 mya, fungi and green algae team up to create lichen—life that can live on rocks and turn them into Soil!
(This is sometimescalled the bioerosion revolution.)
Life has been confined to the ocean and tidal zones for millions of years. Now, the first plants moveonto land near the shores.
7”17a.
20 million years later,
(440 mya)
 
the Ordovician period ends
 
when
there is a mass extinction. Gondwana, one half of earth’s landmass, migrates over the South Pole, leading to massive glaciation,
a severe drop in sea levels, and increased salinity,
along withtremendous loss of coastal habitat—the nursery for most species—around the world.
Then Gondwana moves away from the SouthPole, and there is massive melting, a rise in sea levels, and a drop in salinity. Afterwards, the balance of oceans to land becomes similar towhat we have today, and the interior of the land is finally ready to be colonized.
And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
The Cosmic Walk: The Spiraling Story of Our Universe 1.0 ©2010 Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org, rebduvid86@gmail.com based on the work of Miriam MacGillis, John Seed, and many others. Latest version can be found at
neohasid.org/ecohasid/cosmicwalk 
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